Pacers 103, Bucks 97

A new approach has the Indiana Pacers playing their best

basketball of the season.

Danny Granger scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter

to help the Indiana Pacers snap a six-game losing streak to the

Milwaukee Bucks with a 103-97 victory on Saturday night.

Darren Collison added 22 points as the Pacers improved to 7-1

since Frank Vogel took over as the interim coach on Jan. 30,

replacing the fired Jim O’Brien.

”Honestly, I just think we started playing toward our

strengths” Granger said of Vogel’s new emphasis. ”Whereas before,

we kind of just tried to mold everybody into the system that we

had. Now, we play inside-out. We’ve got a really quick point guard,

so we play up-tempo. We space people out because we have a lot of

good shooters. We’re just playing to the strengths that we have

with this team.”

Collison, who scored eight points in the fourth, agreed that the

team is looking to use its strengths more than ever. He also

credits Vogel.

”I think he’s making it easier for us to play more to our

strengths,” Collison said. ”For myself, he’s making it easier for

me to get to the paint and create for myself and others. For Danny,

he’s making it easier for him to get better shots. And Roy Hibbert,

he’s keeping him at the blocks. He’s just simplifying the game for

us.”

Vogel turned the compliments back toward the players.

”Our guys are starting to understand how good they are,” he

said. ”They’re taking care of their business in the fourth quarter

with poise and patience.”

Granger helped the Pacers pull away when he sparked a 14-0 run

with two 3-pointers and a free throw that made it 91-78 with 3:56

remaining.

Leading 75-72 at the end of the third, Indiana missed its first

seven shots and made just four of eight free throws before

Granger’s 3-pointer with 6:58 to play. Fortunately for the Pacers,

Milwaukee missed 12 straight shots during the decisive surge.

”That’s a sign of a playoff team the way you shut another team

down in the fourth quarter,” Vogel said.

The victory put the Bucks (20-33) five games behind the Pacers

(24-28) in the loss column as Indiana continues its run to the

playoffs. They currently hold the Eastern Conference’s final

playoff spot.

Indiana’s last victory over the Bucks was 115-108 on April 15,

2009, and its last win in Milwaukee was 105-101 on April 4,

2008.

Roy Hibbert added 13 points and eight rebounds for Indiana,

which has won three of its last four road games.

The reserves led the Bucks with Carlos Delfino scoring 21

points, Keyon Dooling had 13 and Earl Boykins 11. Andrew Bogut had

12 rebounds, but only nine points. Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon

Jennings each had 10 points, the most of any of the starters.

John Salmons said lack of execution doomed Milwaukee in the

fourth.

”We didn’t run the plays, just didn’t execute the plays like we

should,” he said. ”Didn’t have any ball movement.”

The Bucks went almost six minutes without scoring during

Indiana’s decisive run, but Delfino and Keyon Dooling helped

Milwaukee make it close late.

Delfino scored five points down the stretch and Dooling made two

free throws that made it 101-95 with 10.3 seconds left. But Granger

answered with two free throws before Boykins hit a 15-foot jumper

for the final margin.

Milwaukee has lost seven of eight to fall from a half-game back

of the East’s final playoff spot to 4 1/2 out.

Granger went 8 for 15 from the field and made 10 of 13 free

throws, including 5 of 6 down the stretch.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute gave Milwaukee its only lead of the

second half when he sank two free throws that made it 78-77 with

9:08 left to play. The Bucks would not score again until Delfino

sank a pair of free throws with 3:11 remaining.

NOTES: The Bucks honored the Super Bowl champion Green Bay

Packers during a special halftime ceremony. Packers president and

chief executive officer Mark Murphy, CB Charles Woodson and S

Charlie Peprah each took turns thanking the crowd for their

enthusiastic support during the season and promised to bring

another championship home next season. Murphy then walked along the

baseline near the Indiana Pacers bench and allowed fans to reach

out and touch the Lombardi Trophy. Woodson, Peprah and Murphy

returned to their sideline seats for the rest of the game. …

Bucks F Corey Maggette left midway through the first quarter with

low back pain and did not return. He scored eight points, but the

injury snapped his string of 10 straight games in double

figures.